In each of the past four months I have posted cartoons on different issues in school reform (see “Digital Kids in School,” “Testing,” “Blaming Is So American,” and “Accountability in Action”). This month I am posting cartoons about charter schools. I ran into a problem, however.
Of all the cartoons on charters that I found, every single one opposed them. I scoured the Internet and could not find a pro-charter cartoon. I do understand that the nature of cartoons is to satirize and caricature but those I found hammered again and again the theme that charters are, at best, harmful to, and, at worst, destroying public schools. I hope readers will point me to pro-charter cartoons that while they satirize still show positive features of this form of parental choice that has spread dramatically in the past two decades.
Since the initial charter school law was passed in Minnesota in 1990, there are now about 5,000 charters (2010) across the nation enrolling 1.4 million students (2009). Unlike public schools, charters can limit how many students they accept because of the space they have and the type of program. As a result, those charters that have established positive reputations with parents often have waiting lists and use lotteries to select their students.
Like public schools, charters vary in quality. Some are first-rate, some are mediocre, and some have been closed for academic failure and financial irregularities. There is nothing magical about being a charter school. Charter schools do not traffic in miracles. It takes a lot of work and money to launch a charter and, like businesses, many fail in the first few years. It takes a heap of work and dedication–and money also–to keep a charter school on course and thriving. (Note to readers: I serve on a board of trustees that governs four charter schools in northern California).
Now to the cartoons.
The next one refers to the Philadelphia (PA) public schools and then Superintendent Arlene Ackerman.
As I noted above, I could not find pro-charter school cartoons. So, for those readers wanting the pluses of charter schools, “Waiting for Superman,” the David Guggenheim documentary that has been both praised and panned, offers one person’s view of charter schools saving children whose only choice was a neighborhood elementary or middle school. Here is a YouTube interview with Michelle Rhee, former Chancellor of the Washington, D.C. schools who is featured in “Waiting for Superman.”